A quarter of people who have experienced short-term cardiac arrest suffer from long-term psychological problems such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and depression, according to a new American study. This extra burden on patient recovery is usually not diagnosed, researchers say, and doctors have few standard methods for identifying those at risk.
Many issues regarding long-term care for the victims have not been resolved, experts say, largely because of the 383 thousand people across the country who suffer from cardiac arrest, only 10% survive each year. And this figure is higher than in the past. Cardiac arrest – when the heart stops beating suddenly and completely – is dangerous because if the heart does not resume functioning quickly, it usually leads to brain damage or death.
Cold therapy, which can protect the brain for a while, and defibrillators, which can make the heart beat again, have helped reduce the number of people who die as a result of cardiac arrest. But little is known about the fact that mental and emotional scars can permanently injure survivors.
Scientists reviewed 11 studies published between 1993 and 2011 that analyzed mental health problems after heart failure and found problems that concern 15 to 50 or more% of patients. Over the course of a few months to several years after suffering a heart attack, about a third of patients were depressed and almost two-thirds experienced anxiety.
Researchers argue that attending physicians should be careful about the psychological recovery of patients who have suffered a heart beat. It should include the formation of a patient’s sense of security and faith in the future, forms of group therapy, as well as methods of conversational therapy.